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Turkish Newsman Released From Prison

January 27, 1999

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ The Turkish correspondent for a French newspaper was released from prison Wednesday after serving 7 1/2 months for disseminating Kurdish propaganda.

Ragip Duran walked out of the prison near Tekirdag, 80 miles northwest of Istanbul, to the cheers and applause of scores of fellow journalists.

Duran, correspondent for Liberation, was convicted in December 1995 for an article published in the now defunct pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem. The article said Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan had acquired the ``identity of a philosopher and moralist, besides his military and political ones.″

Turkish law prohibit journalists from covering some issues in ways unfavorable to the government. Reports critical of the Turkish military’s protracted war against Kurdish insurgents have been interpreted as terrorist propaganda.

Ocalan leads the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey for 14 years. The conflict has killed about 37,000 people.

Duran, 44, who in the past worked for the BBC and Agence France-Presse, is also a lecturer at Istanbul’s Galatasaray University.

There are still 29 journalists in prison in Turkey, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

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